Friday, August 27, 2010

Is it About You and Your Garbage or You and Your Dad?

You are 16 years old and your father has told you to take out the garbage.

This is the job you hate most in the world.

So you acknowledge that you heard what he said, and then you walk out of the house to go to school without doing it. When you arrive home, your father calls you into the room and asks you why you didn’t take out the garbage. You reply that you forgot and you will do it. But then you start thinking about the smelly garbage room and the bugs. You go to sleep without taking it out.

The next morning your father asks again why you didn’t take out the garbage. You apologize profusely and then go to school without taking it out.

When you arrive home, your father calls you again and asks you why you didn’t take out the garbage. This time you know that you are in trouble.

”Son/Daughter, I want you to know that you have done something really wrong. The issue is not that you haven’t taken the garbage out for these three times. The issue is that you have hurt our relationship. Three times you told me that you would do it and each time you promised me. Now I know one thing; I cannot trust your word anymore. This shows that, on a certain level, you don’t respect me or value our relationship. I want you to think over what you have done and decide what you need to do to rectify the wrong you have done."

Your father’s words really make an impression. Now you really feel bad. It finally hit you what you have done. You want to return to your father and tell him you are sorry. It is not so simple in this case to just say you are sorry. There is something more serious involved here. You have damaged your credibility with your father. Just saying you are sorry is not enough to repair the damage.

So you decide to make a plan. After thinking about what you did, you decided to take the following steps:

Step One - You sincerely feel regret for what you have done. You will not try to push away these feelings of regret over what you have done but rather you will let yourself use them in order to spur you to take the steps necessary to change.

Step Two - You will listen to your father. Until you get forgiveness from him you will make sure to listen to everything else that he asks of you.

Step Three - You will go to him and ask forgiveness for what you have done. You will tell him that you are sorry.

Step Four - You will tell him that you have made a decision to listen to his instructions and will not procrastinate any longer.

The next day you go to your father and explain how sorry you are, and that in the future you promise to listen to him immediately when asked to do something. You pour out your heart to him and beseech him to forgive you. Upon seeing your great sincerity and change in attitude, your father wholeheartedly forgives you and warmly welcomes you back into his good graces.

What has occurred here? You have restored your relationship with your father. You have taken a situation of a wounded relationship with him and turned it around. Because you took the time to think it out and sincerely change, you were accepted back by him with joy.

For an explanation of this parable, click here.

If you find this approach to Rosh Hashana useful, you might enjoy the following as well, all thanks to R. Aryeh Nivin.

2. Waking Up to the Sound of the Shofar: Self-evaluation quiz

3. How to use the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashana

4. Defining the spirituality of Rosh Hashana

Shabbat Shalom

“It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” - Churchill

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Did You Know?

Received an email this week from a Jewish person who wants to understand why Judaism states that you can't convert OUT of Judaism - once a Jew, always a Jew.

He has gone so far as to ask his mother not to identify herself as Jewish.

"Justify it," Rabbi he told me.

I asked him, first of all, why would you NOT want to be Jewish? Look at what others have said:

“I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations ... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.” - John Adams, Second President of the United States

Shabbat Shalom

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hippiness: Bang-Bang-Shoot-Shoot

Here’s another news item that might be food for thought and dinner-table conversation.

One of the last refuges for hippiness is the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

There you will find the highest concentration of Birkenstocks and facial hair in the Western hemisphere.

Evergreen is so Left they make Cal (Berkeley) look like Tea Partiers.

In Evergreen, the board of the “Co-op” market voted last month to boycott produce from the Land of Israel.

Here is a handy guide to responding to someone you meet who wants to stop supporting Israel or worse wants to harm Israel.

First, acknowledge that their motive is valid: strong feelings about the living conditions of many Arabs living in lands adjacent to the Jewish state.

We have seen images and heard accounts of these conditions that are very upsetting. These narratives have persuaded us that (1) we are getting an unfiltered, objective understanding of the conditions and (2) the blame for these conditions lies mostly, if not solely on the Israeli government, and therefore by extension on the Israeli people who put that government in power.

Given the volume of information that has informed this conclusion, it would take an equally great volume of counter-information in order to change someone’s opinion.

Most people you meet will not be interested in this kind of education.

I would, however, suggest making these three points:

(Point 1) The fact that I am Jewish does not mean that I have an irrational bias towards Israel. There are plenty of Jewish people who are anti-Israel. But it has been my personal experience as well as that of others that the more one pauses to hear all sides of a story, the more one’s own views tend to moderate.

The question is, are you interested in what is true, or are you interested in bashing-Israel, regardless of the facts?

Because if you are interested in what is true, I would dare say that you cannot honestly claim that you are well-informed if you haven’t examined the evidence on these websites:

Examine them well, with an open mind, and then send me an email to tell me you still see the blame as one-sided. I don’t believe I will receive any emails.

If you don’t want to take the time to become well-informed, then at least be intellectually honest enough to admit you are taking an emotional stance and not a reasoned one.

Point number 2:

Even from within the world-view of the emotional stance, a boycott of Israeli products doesn’t really make sense.

I’ll explain.

A boycott means “we cannot in good conscience trade in Israeli produce.”

Does the boycotter’s computer contain an Intel Core Dual chip? Better stop using it. Invented in Israel. Every local-grown peach you ring up on that register is using an Israeli product. Not to mention the computers you have at home and everywhere else. Get rid of them.

Well, you already have the computers, don’t want to throw them out. But don’t buy a new one with the Windows NP, XP or Vista. These operating systems were all developed in Israel.

I should add Microsoft Office, also an Israeli-developed product. I wonder if we would have any anti-Israel flyers without Israel’s help. Sorry to point out an inconvenient truth.

While we’re at it, let’s mention some other Israeli inventions in the computer industry that you should add to your boycott: Firewalls and Virus protection software, cellphones, cellphone cameras, and AIM and ICQ instant messaging technology. There is even an important search algorithm used by Google that was invented – guess where? As soon as you leave this forum and go googling, you’re supporting Israel. Do you use Skype or other VOIP service? Invented in Israel. Better move back to the local phone company.

I wonder how many American farmers use drip irrigation. That’s an Israeli invention. So are many of the solar power technologies that we use in the United States.

I hope the emotional boycotters never get sick, because the following are some of the medical technologies that you’re going to have to avoid:

• Computerized prescription systems
• The ingestible camera pill
• Babysense anti-SIDS monitor
• Copaxone, which is an MS drug
• Mirabel breast cancer detection

In fact, thanks to Teva pharmaceutical, 1/15 of all prescriptions in the US come from Israel. Make sure you let your doctor know that you don’t want any of these life-saving Israeli products.

That is, if you are being intellectually honest. Or are you a boycotter of convenience?

Point #3

What if the Boycott Israel campaign is the product of forces of evil? Israel has a better human rights record than any country in the Middle East. This is a fact that you can verify. Boycotting people who do so much good in the world is a tactic that has been used in the past by ideologues who wanted to delegitimize Jews, or the Jewish State, regardless of these facts.

In summary:

• Inform yourself using multiple sources and form an educated opinion.
• Consider the absurdity – the impossibility - of a true boycott
• Consider the possibility that joining a boycott supports the political-religious agenda of the most radical people in the world. The Palestinian Authority doesn’t boycott Israel but Hamas does. Which side will you choose?
Finally, here’s a film worth watching and showing:

Shabbat Shalom

“Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.” - Churchill

Friday, August 06, 2010

Pinteleh Yid

What did you see when you saw the photos of Marc and Chelsea?

In case you missed the three official photos, here’s one:

This is a Rorschach test. How you answer the question will tell us a whole lot about you.

Tell us what you see: _____________________________________________________________________________________

(I don’t want to spoil the purity of the test, so go ahead and answer it, and I’ll blabber a bit, then tell you below what I see.)

Blah blah blah blah, yada yada yada.

OK, want to know what I see?

I see a Jewish guy who knows that he’s under a big spotlight, and nevertheless is telling his new wife and in-laws, and his own family and all the guests,

“I’m Jewish! My father is a Jew, my mother is a Jew. I am a Jew.”

Given his position with his background, don’t be fooled by the inter-marriage part of the wedding. There was something intra- going on there too.

Rebbetzin Jungreis always says that inside every Jewish person is a “pinteleh Yid” – a point of awareness of his or her tribal membership, with all the rights (rites) and responsibilities that membership confers. To awaken that pinteleh Yid inside of yourself or someone you care about, I’d highly recommend any of her books:

A Committed Life
A Committed Marriage
Life is a Test

Shabbat Shalom

PS – another perspective

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” - Churchill